There is a veritable bootstrapping industry of cool that has sprung up around Motorhead and Lemmy, a sacred cow that no aspiring or self-respecting metalhead dares run off the street. Of course, with due credit, Lemmy has done little else than be himself, warts and all. My inherent sarcasm suggests he hasn’t tried to play down his image either, but, then again, why the hell should he? It is a positively unwholesome image yet curiously life-affirming in its own strange way. “Say what you mean and mean what you say“, a philosophy simple and profound, one that members participating on the Motorhead Tribute India hopefully empathize with.
After all, pigs do sprout wings with righteous alacrity, don’t they? On to the covers!
Millenium – Iron Fist
Millenium should’ve called their cover Iron Fist, Motherfucker. India’s oldest heavy metal band performs competently as expected. Nothing much to say here; classic song, tightly-played with next to no deviation from the original.
Dying Embrace – Deaf Forever
Doom metal band Dying Embrace take up ‘Deaf Forever’ off Orgasmatron. Very close in overall tone and atmosphere to the Bevar Sea cover yet somewhat sparser in instrumentation, the song is let down by tepid vocals with poor enunciation and backing gang chants that lack the boisterous, boozy menace of the original. Jimmy’s guitars save the song from being a complete bust, his eclectic, abstract style as different from Wurzel and Campbell as chalk and cheese, but a little reined in on this special occasion to grant the cover some much-needed melodic competence.
1833 A.D – Dead And Gone
Out of the night comes a song that I know
Twisted and ruined and black
I can remember the people they were
Nobody knows if they ever come back
Tinged with loss and regret, Dead And Gone is one of the most poignant songs from Motorhead‘s later career. 1833 A.D give it their black metal treatment, lovingly crafting melodic leads and a melancholy atmosphere around it. It is a respectable job, but the song’s appeal to me has always been Lemmy’s broken voice crooning the lines above; ruing relationships gone sour, a recurring theme throughout his career. A troll singing them doesn’t quite cut it, with due respect to 1833 A.D‘s roots. They do make the song their own, however, and it’s a creditable rendition of a true classic.
Bevar Sea – Turn You ‘Round Again
One of the brighter sounding albums in the Motorhead catalogue, in no small measure due to Brian Robertson’s evocative style of playing, Another Perfect Day has a slew of forgotten classics, including the irrepressible, bull-headed charger ‘Turn You ‘Round Again‘. Bevar Sea bring it on this one, the sound suitably muddied, downtuned, and just a touch more slovenly than the original to suit the band’s sludgy origins. The vocals do a fair gargled-razors impersonation of the man himself, the leads leisured and melodic, not as frenetic as Robertson but Bevar Sea cultivate a different, moodier vibe here, and it works very well.
Albatross – God Was Never On Your Side
The albatross around Albatross‘ collective necks? Pun on, the albatross choking the band has been the vocalist who, as impassioned as he is, just doesn’t possess the lungs for the kind of dynamics he aspires to or the band’s music, indeed, demands. God Was Never On Your Side from Kiss Of Death, an album from Motorhead‘s renaissance era, affords him an ideal opportunity to showcase a little more subtlety, the song being a ballad with few histrionics. He is suitably subdued here, somewhat lacking in overall power throughput but certainly not grating. Albatross are blessed with a couple of great guitar players and they let rip here, but the song has an uneven mix, the solos sound noticeably muffled and never really achieve the sort of release that the song’s steadily mounting momentum anticipates.
Shepherd – Sacrifice
One of the heaviest bands in India covers one of the heaviest Motorhead songs. Shepherd have something ineffable about them, a sonic cement-grinder waylaying fools, churning their minds into ton-heavy blocks of concrete to be dropped atop other unsuspecting passers-by. I would know; I was one of those fools, never having had much time for sludge/stoner/whatever the current fancy denomination is for this stuff, but having seen them live twice, I can vouch for the claustrophobic, moldy, sweat-drenched vibe their music emanates. Their cover is spot on; punkish with thick, mercilessly-bashed drums, guitars that dance between resoundingly heavy and bluesy sections, and vocals held back in the mix to convey an echo-like, almost wispish quality. Very well done, indeed.
Witchgoat – Death Or Glory
Witchgoat have been a pleasant surprise through their short existence, easily upstaging all other bands at Trendslaughter 2013 with their brand of filthy, energetic as all break out black/thrash. They choose the perfect cover here but, really, what Motorhead wouldn’t meld well in their hands? Bands like them are direct descendants of Motorhead‘s sloppy, at-the-edge-of-anarchy ethos. Witchgoat throw a nod to the old school by including the main riff to The Chase Is Better Than The Catch in place of the breakdown on the original, and I love them for it!
Djinn And Miskatonic – I Don’t Believe A Word
Djinn And Miskatonic‘s version of ‘I Don’t Believe A Word’, from the underrated Overnight Sensation, is a genuine labour of love, done by people who have obviously identified with the song at one time or another, intimately embellished with their personality to create something entirely new yet one in spirit with the original. Accompanied by gothic visuals from George Romero’s Martin for the pre-release single, the band transforms the already-morose original into a downright funereal dirge, something that would sidle up nicely next to ‘A Death in The Family‘ on Type O Negative‘s Bloody Kisses. The song is a bassist’s showpiece, centered around one of the most memorable basslines in all rock, but the vocals more than hold their own, channeling Pete Steele’s baritone; coming as this release does around the third year of Steele’s passing, Djinn and Miskatonic, intentionally or otherwise, offer a homage that would have the Green Man smiling.
‘I Don’t Believe A Word’ has been a personal favourite for years, but I can honestly say that the last month has had the Djinn and Miskatonic version on loop inside my mental jukebox. Great cover.
Mortar – I Am The Sword
There is something sinister breeding in the East Indian continent; kid after skinny kid taking up arms to play the dingiest extreme metal possible. Kolkata’s Mortar thrash it up on this one. No breakdowns here, just balls-out thrashing from the era of denims, high-tops and shaggy hairdos.
Purgation – Terminal Show
Brutal death metal and Motorhead? Strange combination for my money. Purgation, another young band from Kolkata, use a fuzzy, almost goregrind-like guitar tone and redo the original into a simple, grooving behemoth. Exhorder? Bile? Motorhead?! Sir Kilmister, what filth hath thou spawned? It’s a grower though.
Dormant Inferno – The Game
Why does a death/doom band like Dormant Inferno choose to cover something as caricaturesque as this song, written for professional wrestler Triple H’s ring entrance? The band try their best to improve on an average composition by adding mood-laden synths, but wouldn’t something like Metropolis or Capricorn gel better with their kind of music?
A hidden track lies at the end for the listener to discover, but, overall, the compilation is a commendable effort, gathering bands, old and new, from across the country in obeisance to a band that is more than a band. The production, in terms of vocals and lead guitars, could certainly have been better, and more than a few of my personal favourites are missing ( Lost Johnny, Keep Us On The Road, White Line Fever, Lawman, Poison, Stay Clean, etc ), all notables from the band’s early era, perhaps making for an interesting commentary on the cross section of Motorhead fans in India.
Highlights: Djinn And Miskatonic, Bevar Sea, Shepherd, Witchgoat, Mortar.